ORANGE Lodge deputy grand master Harold Henning accuses republicans of trying “to rid Northern Ireland of any semblance of British cultural identity.”
These “militant cultural imperialists,” as Henning dubs them, seek to win through an Irish Language Act “what republicans failed to win with bomb and gun.”
He told a July 12 rally to commemorate the Irish Catholic Jacobites’ military defeat by the papacy-supported William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 that this nefarious scheming “must be resisted by our elected representatives whom we have just recently mandated to represent our interests and those of the union.”
These are the 10 Democratic Unionist Party MPs propping up the Theresa May government.
DUP MPs require little Orange Lodge encouragement to pursue a divisive agenda, turning their backs on the Good Friday Agreement’s “mutual respect” and “parity of esteem” formulations.
Henning’s choice of words in bemoaning the likely cost of setting up Irish-language schools and having bilingual traffic signs — normal throughout Wales and in some areas of Scotland — is quite instructive.
He complains that “our taxpayers” would foot the bill, as though voters for Sinn Fein and other parties supportive of an Irish Language Act pay no tax.
In any case, the Westminster government has just bunged an annual billion-pound-plus bribe to Stormont to safeguard Theresa May’s job, so finance shouldn’t be an issue for a handful of schools and some pots of paint.
In a similar way, Henning demeans the long-accepted requirement for “equality and rights” in Northern Ireland by referring to it as Sinn Fein’s “Trojan horse,” underlining his and his organisation’s preference for when the six counties statelet was run as an Orange rotten borough.
The only positive aspect of the DUP negotiating coup that bamboozled the Tory Party is that it provides an opportunity to shed light on the party and its ideological standpoint.
Prior to yesterday’s marches and rallies, Eleventh Night witnessed the usual array of huge bonfires, with Irish tricolours and nationalist and Catholic symbols consigned to the flames.
Effigies of republican leaders in coffins, including the recently deceased deputy first minister Martin McGuinness and hunger-striker Bobby Sands, were also tossed onto the blazing pyres.
One innovation this year was the attachment of a banner to the bonfire in Avoniel Leisure Centre car park in east Belfast, which proclaimed: “Scott Sinclair loves bananas.”
Sinclair is a black footballer who plays for Celtic and was subject to racist abuse by a Rangers supporter at an Old Firm derby in April and subsequently on social media.
What kind of organisation believes that compounding a racist crime by attempting to belittle the victim is acceptable?
Doubtless, we shall be regaled by an assortment of respectable leaders — Orange, DUP, Tory — voicing their sadness about the Sinclair banner, but none will explain why it found its way onto the pyre.
To merely pose the question is the first step towards asking about the intrinsic nature of a statelet based on two-thirds of the Irish province of Ulster.
While the working class shares similar concerns of jobs, housing and living standards as its counterparts in Glasgow, Cardiff, Liverpool or Dublin, one section remains wedded to their political leaders’ “British values” of monarchism, religious intolerance, notions of supremacy and racism.
These are the Tories’ chosen allies, pledging to sustain in Britain the same capitalist austerity agenda that afflicts all working people from whatever cultural or religious heritage in Northern Ireland.